10 ways to make it (or break it) as a fitness business this year

Jessica Armstrong
17 min read
Top fitness professionals share the advice fitness business owners must take in order to thrive in the industry.

Top fitness professionals share the advice fitness business owners must take in order to thrive in the industry.


Nowadays gym and studio owners can find answers to most, if not all of their questions about running their businesses on the internet. With free access to dozens of online fitness business blogs, forums, Facebook groups, podcasts, and more instructors, trainers, and owners can simply type in their curiosities or questions and hundreds of results will appear on any search engine giving them loads to explore.

But with so many resources, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of search results and be uncertain about which advice to take or not to take. Especially when you’re relying on that advice to make important decisions for your business.

We asked several of the top fitness business coaches to provide our community with their insight on what fitness business owners really need to know and do to be successful this year. Not only will you be surprised by some of their answers and solutions for challenges fitness business owners see daily, but you’ll also be shocked at how easy it is to apply these simple yet highly effective strategies starting the second you finish reading this guide.

Someone working from their laptop

Why listen to what business coaches have to say?

Most successful fitness business coaches have years of experience working in the fitness industry as trainers, instructors, coaches, owners of their own gym or studio. They’ve not only talked the talk but they’ve walked the walk, and with their experience know a thing or two about what it takes to run a successful thriving business. Now it’s your turn.

In a constantly changing climate and industry, the proven strategies that have worked for fitness business owners for years are evolving. These coaches want you to know what to expect and how to grow with the times to create a fitness business that exceeds expectations, gives your own clients a supreme customer experience, and increases in gross revenue year over year.

From pricing for profitability to generating leads online to how to expand who your ideal client is, learn how to run the best version of your business this year with strategies designed by the best in the game.

Price for profitability

Fitness business coach, Nicky Sehgal

Nicky Sehgal, The Fitness Business Development Academy: You can’t sell your way to a profitable business. If you’re not generating good profit margins from day one, you’re going to struggle to fund business growth without the use of outside money such as loans, investment, etc, instead of your operating profit. To earn a profit:

  • Price your services higher than you think your market will pay or at least create one high-end, high-profit service.
  • Learn how to sell the value of your service rather than the service itself.
  • Pay staff the best you can but never sacrifice your profit margins.
  • Pre-determine the max you can pay your staff based on your business and financial goals. Don’t do this organically, reverse engineer it.
  • Fall in love with making profits, it’s a good thing, not a greed thing. Don’t believe BS around this, it will keep you poor which helps nobody.

Solve your clients’ problems in your marketing messages

Liam Thompson from Internet Fit Pro

Liam Thompson, Internet Fit Pro: One of the biggest marketing mistakes that I see from fitness businesses is they are trying to be everything to everybody and market to everyone at once. This doesn't work because you can really only market to one person. Or when I say person, what I mean is one type of person at any one time. You need to be specific and focus on solving whatever problem that they have. If you try to be a jack of all trades and market to everyone, you're going to end up not attracting anyone because you're not solving any problems.

Marketing is about problem-solving. In order to solve a problem, you have to know what the problem is. If you look at certain demographics within the fitness industry, people have different challenges at different stages of life. They're looking for different things, depending on who they are.

  • For example, an 18-year-old male who wants a six-pack and wants to get in shape for very different reasons than a 58-year-old male, who is thinking about his health and longevity. The 58-year-old male is thinking about wanting to live a healthier life to have more time with his family. His reasons for getting fit and buying and investing in personal training are different from the 18-year-old who wants to get fit and look good. If you're marketing to these people with the same messages, that’s not going to work because they want different things.
  • For females, it's the same thing. An 18-year-old woman wants to get fit for different reasons than a 50-year old woman who is thinking again longevity and health. With the group of women that’s somewhere in the middle, the 30-45-year-old group, those women typically want to lose weight, get their confidence back, feel healthier and look great. There are many different reasons why people want to invest in fitness and you can’t hit them all at once.

You have to narrow yourself and just pick one and go for it. That doesn’t mean you can’t service different people. It means that you should be marketing to one type of person that wants to focus on what they want instead of focusing on you as a coach.

Expand your reach by disrupting your local market

Mel Tempest

Mel Tempest: The quickest way to disrupt your marketplace is to create a niche different from everybody else. Don't replicate the business down the road, challenge the status quo, and let your marketing represent who your members are. If your demographic is 35-50, then that's who should represent your brand. Don't chase a crowd that is not a reflection of your culture and community.

The strategy really is about putting your blinkers on and staying focused. Create a simple three-step plan once you have an idea, don't overcomplicate things, get your team on board from conception...go to market early...don't be afraid to jump in the deep end.

Generate new leads with conversation starters

Chris Cooper from Two-Brain Business

Chris Cooper, Two-Brain Business: To generate more leads, consider setting up a local Facebook group to provide free help for people. Two or three times per week, publish helpful content. Then, every couple of weeks, post something that starts a conversation in the group. This is a really big, valuable “give”—maybe something that makes you uncomfortable to provide for free. You’re going to ask “who wants this?” and then send the resource via chat. And that big gift is the first message in a conversation with your new lead.

Utilise your clients’ social media content to attract their networks

Chris Burgess

Chris Burgess, Lift the Bar: One of the least utilised, yet most valuable strategies for coaches using social media is to encourage your clients to tag you, or your business location when they come to train. When a client tags you or your business, that post will be seen by their friends and family in a much more targeted way than when we post our own content. If you’re seeking to infiltrate your client’s networks in order to boost referrals then tagging can be a hugely effective way of making that plan more effective.

Think of things another way: If you have

  • 1 Facebook page and post 5x per week
  • 1 Instagram page and post 5x per week

That’s 10 attempts at getting your voice heard using 2 channels, but if we have 10 clients who tag us once a week, now we have 20 attempts at getting our voice heard using 12 channels!

And when we remember that a client’s friend will trust their friend's message above anything we could ever say, it’s a genuinely brilliant way of harnessing the true power of social media.

Find only legitimate resources to help you run your business

A.J. Morton from Fit Pro Mentorship review

A.J. Morton, Fit Pro Mentorship Review: With PTs and gym owners being bombarded with flashy marketing from questionable “business” coaches every day, it’s more important now than ever to do your research and get confident in your investment before hiring. I recommend finding an unbiased source of reviews (like my group) so you can hear about the good, bad, and the ugly, and properly research mentors and business courses throughout your decision-making process.

Keep in mind there are no new flashy tactics to grow your business. Much like you tell your weight-loss clients, it’s the consistent execution of the basics that will win in the long run, and anyone promising unbelievable results in unrealistic time frames is probably too good to be true.

To find the right coach, I recommend choosing two to three that you resonate with most. Get them (or their team) on a call and get ALL your questions and concerns answered. Pay attention to how they answer, and how they plan to help YOU move your business toward your goals. The coach you feel the most supported by, the one you trust the most, that’s your next business coach.

Enhance your website to improve conversions

Ben Davis from Fitness Marketing Agency

Ben Davis, Fitness Marketing Agency: For your website to convert better it needs to be less about you and more about the prospective client. Far too often we will see websites from people in the industry which will list their qualifications, the number of years they've been in the industry, what they do for workouts, and what they eat. Sadly consumers don't care they just want to know what's in it for them, the results they will achieve and the outcome they are paying for, focus your website on this and you'll have better website success.

Here is what your website should include if you want to use it as a top conversion tool:

1. A headline that calls out your target market and their needs and wants. For example, “We Help 30+ Professional Ladies Increase Their Energy & Look & Feel Better In 6 Weeks Or Less.”
2. Social proof. Reviews, video testimonials, any accolades to showcase what you do actually work.
3. Landline number. you are a professional, all professional services have a landline and not a mobile number.
4. Mobile responsive website, most of your traffic will be looking at your website on their phones, make sure it loads quickly and is easy to reach. This is a good website to test how quickly your website loads: https://pagespeed.web.dev/.
5. Clear call to action buttons. We've tested a lot of different colours on call to action buttons and orange gets the most clicks whether it fits with the colour scheme or not.

Level up your offer to boost your revenue

Kate Martin, founder of Kate Martin Mentor

Kate Martin, Kate Martin Mentor: Increasing your income without needing to run ads can be as simple as the following:

In regards to your current services, where do the prices/cost for clients fall?

In the following areas:

  • Free to lower-end $
  • Medium $$
  • The high end $$$$

Make sure your business has offers in every single section to have a sustainable business that creates time and income. Then as soon as possible, outsource for help on lower-paid tasks like administration. Some examples of these offers would be:

  • Free to low-end: Free seminar, workshop, BootCamp, semi-private group PT. Or for online a free email PDF gift, or a referral group program.

  • Medium: 1:1 PT or multiple semi-private sessions/week. Or for online, a group or 1:1 coaching program.

  • High end: A higher-end more specialised online program (this will be decided by the coach's experience - or how they choose to collaborate with others). Also, what's possible is a retreat, a series of events, or any upfront paid in full service for a longer-term commitment, ex. a year's worth of training. It’s important to note that the upfront for a year approach still takes a lot of man-hours to deliver, so it's not the best form of 'high-end' you could create and offer. Selling a year's worth of training is not advisable to do too often, it's there to help people 'break' the income ceiling they are currently used to receiving in one go.

    However, once it's been done 3-4 times then I suggest not using this anymore. If you do continue to use it, I suggest only ever having a very limited number of people on this package (for example, no more than 5% of your entire member base).

Attract customers with your knowledge and experience

Karl Muir from PT Mentor UK

Karl Muir, PT Mentor UK: Don't be afraid to give FREE value. Too many times PTs and coaches think "I don't want to give my advice away for nothing", but you should, all of it. Literally every hint, tip and bit of advice - give it away in your social media posts, your newsletters, your blogs and even face to face.


As this advice is already out there, by you holding it back, they'll go and find it from someone else. They'll then start to follow that person, get to know, like and trust them, over you. So, when it comes to a 'sign up to my services' post, where do you think they're going to go? Yep, to the person that gives them FREE value. Information is free, implementation isn't. In other words, when the free advice has got them so far, they'll soon be coming to you for the paid stuff.

Identify with your ideal client’s values and their personal mission

Barry Kostabi

Barry Kostabi, Fitness Career Mastery: You've likely heard many times about the importance of niching down and building your brand and business that serves your ideal client. Nothing could be more true if you want to build a successful business and have the depth of impact that you desire, but often, how to build a brand that targets your ideal client can remain a challenging task. Most fitness entrepreneurs make a big mistake of putting in a ton of effort to make their workouts super attractive to their ideal client when what matters most to them is something else entirely. Equinox does an excellent job of highlighting this "something else" in their marketing.

In 2020, Amanda Kloots, a former Radio City Rockette and popular jump rope instructor known for her infectious positive energy moved to LA from New York with her Husband Nick Cordero- a big Broadway star, and her new baby Elvis. It wasn’t long after moving to LA that Nick was diagnosed with COVID and was admitted to the hospital. He began to experience some terrible complications- he was given a temporary pacemaker, had multiple lung infections, had septic shock, underwent a leg amputation, and was put into a medically induced coma. Amanda wasn’t allowed in the hospital at that time, so every day she would park outside the building and share any updates on Instagram with his fans and loved ones. The #wakeupnick hashtag went viral as Amanda’s hope and positivity that Nick would recover spread. The most powerful thing that happened was that every day from outside the hospital she’d sing a song he wrote called “Live Your Life” to him, which everyone began doing along with her on social media.

Despite the songs, the prayers, and the outpouring of love, Nick died after spending 90 days in the hospital. So many people followed Amanda and Nick’s story and were inspired by the positivity that she brought with her every day to the hospital through her loss. One company that followed along was Equinox. It wasn’t long after Nick’s death that they picked up her jump rope class and started offering it at their studios nationwide.

But when Equinox launched this class, the ads and marketing didn’t talk about the class at all. Instead, they told Amanda’s story, and how through her experience, the silver lining was her realization of how important every single day is, how important it is to move our bodies and to be grateful that you can get out of bed in the morning. They featured her mission- which is to spread positivity.

All of the images that they used showcased people joyfully and energetically moving their bodies. They also used her tagline “Jump, skip, smile” and put it on the jump ropes to remind everyone who came that you can move your body and smile and be grateful while you're doing it.

The takeaway? Equinox sold a means to become a more positive person who is grateful to be able to move- and they just happen to accomplish that through a jump rope class. Anyone with who that message resonates is going to be attracted to the class, and you can guarantee that wouldn’t be the case if they only talked about things like how many calories they burn in the class and how great their sound system is.

The main driver behind why people make decisions - particularly buying decisions has nothing to do with the actual product they’re purchasing. If you can showcase to your ideal client that you understand the type of person that they are, and why you believe consuming your workouts will help them achieve the transformational identity that they desire, you'll be able to build a powerful brand that speaks to your ideal client on an emotional level, and stands out from the competition.

Fitness business coach FAQs

Find all your frequently asked questions about fitness business coaches here:

What is a fitness business coach?

A fitness business coach is a professional mentor. They offer support to fitness business owners by educating and motivating them. Fitness business coaches often have experience setting up and successfully running their own businesses and they are able to offer objective recommendations to help fitness business owners to increase growth and achieve their goals and vision.

What do fitness business coaches do?

Each with their own unique perspective and expertise, business coaches offer their clients a deeper understanding of how to run a fitness business and the strategies they need to put in place to grow and succeed. They help their clients with everything from growing their businesses, increasing revenue, building an excellent customer experience, and branding and marketing.

Where can I find fitness business coaches?

You can find fitness business coaches and mentors by reaching out to the wider fitness industry community. Start by contacting the certification course providers you did your qualification with and asking for any contacts or recommendations they may have. Searching on Google for fitness business coaches presents you with results for blogs and websites with recommended fitness business coaches.

Facebook groups are another great source. Fitness business Facebook groups for organisations are the perfect place to field questions and ask for recommendations on all sorts of fitness-related topics, including which fitness business coaches to approach and have proven results. In the group Fitpro Membership Review, you can find dozens of reviews of the top fitness business coaches to see which is the best for you and how they have helped the person reviewing.

Of course, you can reach out to one of the fitness business coaches we’ve mentioned here.

How much do fitness business coaches cost?

Fitness business coaches can charge anywhere between $50.00 to $300.00 per hour. The average tends to be between $75.00 and $200.00. This will vary by coach and location, in-person, online or hybrid services.

Coaches may also offer packages. For example, you could find offers of four half-hour sessions a month for around $200.00 to $300.00 or eight 90-minute sessions over a 6 month period priced between $800.00 and $2,000.00

Additional resources for running the best version of your business

To learn more about the best practices for running your business and taking it to the next level here are some helpful guides to check out:

Thanks for reading!

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